Monday, January 17, 2005

Not USDA-Approved

As you know, I am trying to eat more vegetables, to reach in any given day the USDA's target number of servings for my calorie consumption, about 4 cups.

I thought that would make for a good reason to break out a recipe I tried for New Year's Eve, from the New York Times (29 December):


1 head cauliflower
2/3 cup sifted cornstarch
2/3 cup flour
2 eggs
3 to 4 cups canola or grapeseed oil [I used extra virgin olive oil]
Prepared romesco or aioli sauce, for dipping, optional [I skip it]

1. Remove core from cauliflower and separate into bite-size florets.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in florets, cook 1 minute, drain in a colander, and place under cold water to cool. Transfer to a towel to dry.
3. Sift cornstarch and flour to a large bowl. Whisk eggs with 2/3 cup water. Whisk into flour mixture. Season batter with salt [I added fresh-ground pepper] to taste. Place florets in batter and fold with a large spoon to coat evenly.
4. Heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan to 350 degrees. Drop in about one-third of the batter coated florets. Fry about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to paper towel. Repeat with remaining florets.
5. To serve, heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and arrange cauliflower on it. Place in oven, and heat about 8 minutes; dust with salt and serve. Serve dipping sauce alongside, if desired.

I know they say not to fry in extra virgin olive oil, but the thing is that I have made Carciofi alla Giudaica [that's Jewish-style artichokes, for you non-Romans] and you fry those in olive oil to great effect. In fact, all you need is the vegetables, the olive oil, and a little salt and pepper and you end up with a food that is better than most on earth. So I have fried in olive oil, and it might be that you are frying at a lower temperature (I have never tested the temperature), but it works out.

On this occasion, I substituted brocoflower for the cauliflower, just for added color. There was a little more batter than we needed, so I did up some Baby Bella mushrooms too, and tried a few martini olives. Patient Partner is very fond of those, but they probably aren't what the USDA meant by vegetables. But then, breaded and deep-fried probably wasn't in the game plan either. But then again, I am not a fan of eggs, so this was a chance to eat a little of that without noticing, and hey, Olive Oil!

Verdict: the USDA would not approve of the fat content, but for those of you interested in the good cholesterol, you can't beat olive oil. A little protein from the egg, but fat, too, of course. Lots of veggies: the head of brocoflower was 8 cups total. You do need salt on them, but with some pepper you can cut back a bit.

PP pointed out that if McDonalds made these, people would choke down their vegetables.

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